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Laurie Mize Henderson Challenges Judge Alan Furr in St. Clair County

Brandon Moseley



By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter 

Pell City Attorney Laurie Mize Henderson is challenging incumbent Judge Alan Furr in the March 13th Republican Primary.  The two candidates debated each other on Thursday, February 16th at the St. Clair County Republican Party’s Candidates’ Forum in Pell City.

Over 190 St. Clair residents jammed the meeting room of the Pell City Civic Center for the Republican candidates’ forum.  The St. Clair County Republican Candidates’ Forum fielded a dozen candidates for the office of District Judge Place One, St. Clair County Commissioner, and St. Clair County School Board. 

Judge Alan Furr said, “Over 18 years my practice, unlike my opponents, has not been confined to the district court. I have done everything from simple wills to high dollar embezzlement in federal court for corporations.”  Judge Furr said that as a lawyer he has represented criminal defendants, done divorce work, handled civil matters, and has worked both as a prosecutor and as a judge in municipal court.

Laurie Mize Henderson said, “ninety five percent plus or minus of my caseload is in the district court.” Ms. Henderson said that she had prosecuted for city of Ashville, handled child custody, traffic, criminal misdemeanor, domestic relations, and child support cases as well as handled small claim civil matters.  “I have done everything that is handled in district court.”

On the subject of alternative sentencing, Judge Furr said, “Sometimes the best programs don’t work until you have a mind change.”  “We bring young people out of juvenile court to juvenile drug court.” Judge Furr said that a young person who gets in trouble with the law due to dependency issues can go to drug court.  “We have some success stories and we have some failures. The failures go back to the juvenile delinquency program.”  “I am for programs when program work.”  Judge Furr said Community drug court is a different program some Judges sentence people there rather than to prison.

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Mrs. Henderson said, “I feel community drug court is great. They have dropped recidivism.” “In my mind that it (community drug court) is a privilege.”  Mrs. Henderson said that offenders who break the rules of the treatment program should “lose your privilege.”  “I don’t believe in revolving doors to rehab.” Mrs. Henderson said that law enforcement has to go find the offenders when they leave the community drug court.  “It is a privilege, when you mess up you go to jail,” Mrs. Henderson said.  Mrs. Henderson was concerned that Community Drug Court was cost prohibitive for some people.

On the juvenile program Mrs. Henderson said, “I am a mother of 3 children.” “I am not naiive enough to believe that that can not one day be one of my children.”

Judge Furr said, “We do have a substantial number of people who reoffend.” The same people keep coming back.

On the state’s prison overcrowding situation Judge Furr said, “We are a breath away from the federal mandate.” “We don’t have enough (prison) facilities.” Mrs. Henderson said, “The overcrowding issue will not correct itself.” Both emphasized that the state legislature needed to deal with the prison overcrowding system.  Judge Furr said, “The Legislature has to get a handle on this situation.”  They said the prison system is at 177% capacity.  60 to 70% of those are there for violent crimes. 


Mrs. Henderson said, “Community corrections and drug court are alternatives but at some point I am not really concerned about their comfort but rather about keeping people that are violent and repeat offenders off of our streets.”  “There has to be a way to identify the real threats from who we can help with community corrections or drug court.”  Mrs. Henderson said she expects to see more half way houses where those people can not leave.”  “I definitely think violent criminals need to serve every day of their sentences My understanding of sentencing reforms is that there will be a fourth class of nonviolent offenders like drug offenders where the sentencing will be reduced.”

Both candidates were concerned about the amount of money the state was going to budget for the court system in the 2012/2013 fiscal year.

Judge Furr said, “The biggest problem we have got now is economics.”  “The budget is not looking pretty.” “I met with Chief Justice Malone Sunday.” “A 25% cut is what we are anticipating.” “(St. Clair County) Circuit Clerk Annette Manning Hall just underwent a staff cut.  When this budget comes out I don’t know where we can find another 25% to cut.”  “We have computers that don’t work because the court system does not have enough staff to fix them.”

Mrs. Henderson suggested that a more aggressive collections effort might help. “The amount of uncollected fines and restitution in this county is staggering.” Mrs. Henderson said that the St. Clair County Court System had $1.5 million in uncollected fines, $1.5 million in uncollected court costs, plus uncollected restitution.

Both candidates thought that the law was still a good career field.  Judge Furr said, “Back when I started my practice there was a lot of money to be made.”  “Trial lawyers especially plaintiffs lawyers” made large amounts of money.  Judge Furr said that the field is “not as lucrative as it was in the 80s or the 90s.”  “We used to believe lawyers were insulated from hard economic times.  People would get in a mess and then hire a lawyer to get them out of the mess.  Now they can’t afford to hire an attorney to get them out of the mess.”

Mrs. Henderson said, “I am a domestic relations attorney.  There is always a demand for divorce.”   

The District Court Place One Judgeship became vacant when then Place One District Judge Phil Seay was appointed by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley to replace retiring presiding Judge Charlie Robinson.  Alan Furr was then appointed by Gov. Bentley in November 2011 to fill the then vacant District Court Place One Judgeship.  Alan Furr and Laurie Mize Henderson both have worked as attorneys in St. Clair County for several years.

The St. Clair County Democratic Party elected not to field any candidates for any office as most political operatives believe that the Republicans will dominate the general election ballot in St. Clair County because 2012 is not likely to be a good year for Alabama Democrats with controversial President Barack H. Obama at the top of the Alabama Democratic Party Ballot on November 6th.  Unless independent candidates qualify to be on the ballot on November 6th the winners of the Republican Primary on March 13th will be the winner of all the offices in St. Clair County.  All of the elected offices in St. Clair County are currently held by Republicans.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.



Governor announces auto supplier IAC plans Alabama expansion

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County.

Brandon Moseley




Gov. Kay Ivey announced Monday that International Automotive Components Group North America Inc. plans to invest over $55.9 million in expansion projects that will create 182 jobs at two Alabama facilities.

“International Automotive Components is a leading global auto supplier, and I am pleased that this world-class company is growing significantly in Alabama and creating good jobs in Cottondale and Anniston,” Ivey said. “IAC’s growth plans show that Alabama’s dynamic auto industry continues to expand despite today’s challenging environment.”

Nick Skwiat is the executive vice president and president of IAC North America.

“Alabama was the logical choice due to its skilled workforce and proximity to the customer,” Skwiat said. “We are excited to see the continued growth of the automotive industry in Alabama and we plan to grow right along with it. We thank the Governor and Secretary Canfield for their leadership in this sector.”

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County. This facility will produce door panels and overhead systems for original equipment manufacturers. That project will create 119 jobs at the production site in Cottondale.

IAC also plans to invest $21.6 million at its manufacturing facility located in the former Fort McClellan in Anniston. That East Alabama project will create another 63 jobs.

This project builds on a milestone 2014 expansion that doubled the size of the Calhoun County facility. There IAC manufactures automotive interior components and systems. Key components produced at the Anniston plant include door panels, trim systems and instrument panels for original equipment manufacturers.

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IAC Group is a leading global supplier of innovative and sustainable instrument panels, consoles, door panels, overhead systems, bumper fascias and exterior ornamentation for original equipment manufacturers.

IAC is headquartered in Luxembourg and has more than 18,000 employees at 67 locations in 17 countries. The company operates manufacturing facilities in eight U.S. states.

“With operations around the globe, IAC is the kind of high-performance company that we want in Alabama’s auto supply chain to help fuel sustainable growth,” said Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “We look forward to working with IAC and facilitating its future growth in this strategic industrial sector.”


Danielle Winningham is the executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority.

“International Automotive Components is a valued part of Tuscaloosa County’s automotive sector,” Winningham said. “We are grateful for IAC’s investment in our community and the career opportunities available to our area workforce as a result of their investment.”

“The City of Anniston is excited that IAC has made the decision to expand here. I have enjoyed working with the leadership at IAC, the Calhoun County EDC, and the state of Alabama to get this project finalized,” said Anniston Mayor Jack Draper. “This is even further evidence that Anniston is indeed open for business.”

Only Michigan has more automobile manufacturing jobs than the state of Alabama. Honda, Mercedes, Hyundai, Polaris, Toyota and soon Mazda all have major automobile assembly plants in the state of Alabama.

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AUM poll suggests Alabamians divided on prison reform proposals

90 percent of Alabamians favor some type of reform to the state’s prison systems, but there is little agreement on what efforts should be pursued.

Brandon Moseley




Last week, a poll by Auburn University at Montgomery’s Department of Political Science and Public Administration found that approximately 90 percent of Alabamians favor some type of reform to the state’s prison systems, but there is little agreement on which reform efforts should be pursued.

  • 36.6 percent: “Reduce or eliminate criminal sentences for non-violent crimes.”
  • 30.3 percent: “Parole inmates convicted of non-violent crimes.”
  • 25.9 percent: “Increase funding to improve existing prison facilities.”
  • 21.4 percent: “Construct new prisons to be operated by the state.”
  • 14.5 percent: “Contract with private firms to construct new prisons the state would then lease to operate.”
  • 27.5 percent: “Increase funding for prison staff such as correctional officers, healthcare providers, educators, etc.”
  • 15.2 percent: “Increase funding for probation officers.”
  • 9.9 percent: “I support none of these options.”

The totals do not add up to 100 because it was a “select all that apply” poll.

Gov. Kay Ivey’s plan of signing a decades-long lease with private prison contractors was the least popular idea. Repairing the existing prisons 25.9 percent support while constructing new prisons had just 21.4 percent support.

The most popular prison reform measures, according to AUM poll director David Hughes, address prison overcrowding through criminal sentencing reforms.

“Approximately 37 percent of respondents support policies to reduce or eliminate sentences for non-violent offenders, and another 30 percent support paroling inmates convicted of non-violent crimes,” Hughes said.

The governor has included justice reform proposals in her all-encompassing plan. Those proposals were going to be considered by the Legislature in the 2020 legislative session but because of the coronavirus, the 2020 legislative session was cut short and the Legislature went home without addressing that or many other issues.

Much less popular is Ivey’s plan to build three new mega-prisons in Escambia, Elmore and Bibb counties.

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“Only 21 percent of respondents supported a proposal to build new prisons the state would then directly operate,” Hughes said. “The least popular proposal we polled involved the state contracting with private firms to construct new prisons the state would then lease. Only 14 percent of respondents approved of this reform measure.”

The state has grossly underfunded its prison system for decades and the Alabama Department of Corrections is still dangerously overcrowded and understaffed, despite recent efforts by the Legislature to deal with its chronic underfunding of the system.

A U.S. Justice Department investigation begun by the Obama administration and concluded by the Trump administration declared that the state has the most dangerous prison system in the country. The prisons are plagued by rampant drug use, extreme violence, and the prisons have not done a good job at preparing prisoners to return to society.


The poor track record of rehabilitating prisoners means that inmates are released without job skills, education and still battling mental health issues and drug dependency. Too many inevitably reoffend and get sent back to prison exacerbating the overcrowding situation.

The U.S. Department of Justice warned the state in July that it was violating prisoners’ constitutional rights and that the attorney general may file or join lawsuits to intervene. A federal court has already found that the prisons were understaffed by a thousand guards and that inmates were not receiving necessary mental health care.

The AUM Poll was conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 3. It solicited online participation from 1,072 registered voters in Alabama. Respondents were weighted according demographic factors such as age, gender, race, education and income to produce a more representative sample of Alabama’s voting age population.

The survey has a 4-point margin of error.

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Federal assistance following Sally tops $100 million, one month remains to apply

The deadline to register for assistance from FEMA and the SBA is Nov. 19, 2020.





Gov. Kay Ivey took a tour of the damage from Hurricane Sally on the gulf coast Friday September 18, 2020. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

About a month after the federal disaster declaration for Hurricane Sally, over $100 million in federal disaster assistance has been approved for survivors.

The funds include grants from FEMA, the National Flood Insurance Program and low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help with uninsured or underinsured losses.

“Alabamians, particularly in our coastal communities are still working to get back on their feet following the impacts from Hurricane Sally. I remain grateful to the Trump Administration and the team at FEMA for helping provide this immediate relief for Alabamians,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “I encourage folks in the eligible counties to take advantage of any of this assistance as we work to recover from Hurricane Sally.”

FEMA disaster assistance can help you start on your road to recovery. Alabama homeowners, renters and businesses who had property damage or loss related to Hurricane Sally have one month left to register and apply for federal disaster assistance.

The deadline to register for assistance from FEMA and the SBA is Nov. 19, 2020.

“FEMA is here with our state and federal partners to help Alabama communities and survivors recover from the devastating storm and flooding,” said Allan Jarvis, federal coordinating officer for the Hurricane Sally disaster in Alabama. “Register for assistance if you have uninsured disaster losses.”

Survivors should register even if they have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but eligible homeowners and renters may be able to receive FEMA grants or SBA low interest loans for losses not covered by insurance to help pay for basic home repairs, temporary rental assistance and other needs such as replacing personal property.

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Survivors in Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile counties have until Thursday, Nov. 19, to apply for federal disaster help.

Register for assistance in one of three ways:

  • Online by logging onto
  • The FEMA app: Visit or your phone’s app store
  • Call 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Language translators also are available. Toll-free numbers are open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight CST, seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.

Survivors who have questions about SBA low-interest disaster loans may contact the Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955 (TTY 800-877-8339), email at [email protected] or visit SBA’s website at


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Aderholt fully supports Barrett’s confirmation process

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

Brandon Moseley



Congressman Robert Aderholt

Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, updated his constituents on the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Aderholt said, “I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms.”

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

“Senate Democrats are not seriously questioning Judge Barrett on her credentials, instead they have decided to attack her character and her beliefs,” Aderholt said. “I am disappointed to see this unfold on the national stage, but I think Judge Barrett stood strong and did well during this first week of hearings.”

“While I do not have a vote in her confirmation process, I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms when she is officially sworn in as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” Aderholt said.

Barrett is a Notre Dame graduate, has served on the U.S. Seventh Court of Appeals and is a former clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate,” Barrett said. “His judicial philosophy is mine, too: A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”

Barrett vowed to keep an open mind on any matter that comes before the court, though Democrats fear she is prepared to overturn Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.

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That the Republican controlled committee will recommend that Barrett be confirmed appears certain. A vote to confirm Barrett to the nation’s highest court by the full Senate could occur just days ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump has been the president of the United States for less than four years but if Barrett is confirmed, then he will have selected one third of the U.S. Supreme Court. Barrett fills a place created by the death of the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces Democratic nominee Rick Neighbors in the Nov. 3 general election.


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